Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Hydro One – Enough is Enough Petition, Eliminate Unfair Fees

A petition I definitely participated in, “Hydro One: Eliminate Unfair Fees and the HST From our Bills, and Remove Inaccurate ‘Smart Meters’ from the Province of Ontario.” I am glad that serious and aggressive action is being taken against Hydro One. I am also glad that technology allows us to have a means to voice our concerns as well.

I had to think twice before I signed this petition because I didn’t fully understand how my Aurora PowerStream bill was related to Hydro One. There are just so many different tiers to the utility business out there that one can get a bit confused. After one hour of searching and reading I finally decoded the system, I think. It goes like this, in very general process flow steps.

Electricity is generated at power generating stations across Ontario, by Ontario Power Generation (one of the Government of Ontario owned Government Business Enterprises) as well as various privately owned companies. Then from the power generating stations electricity needs to be distributed. That’s where Hydro One comes in (another one of the Government of Ontario owned Government Business Enterprises).  Hydro One states: “Our transmission system carries electricity from generating stations to local distribution companies and large industrial customers through our high-voltage network of transformer stations, transmission towers and wires.” – Source Removed.

In Aurora and the surrounding areas, next the PowerStream distribution system takes and delivers electricity at lower voltages to homes and businesses through a network of hydro poles and power lines. “PowerStream Inc. is the second largest municipally-owned electricity distribution company in Ontario, providing service to residential and business customers in Alliston, Aurora, Barrie, Beeton, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Penetanguishene, Markham, Richmond Hill, Thornton, Tottenham and Vaughan.” – Source Removed.

I therefore concluded that I was eligible to participate in the petition since Hydro One supplies power to PowerStream.

This petition calls for a few items that do concern me as well – delivery charges, debt charges and of course smart meters. I didn’t think about removal of the HST tax, but now that I hear that some other provinces do not charge tax on energy utility bills, I think another 13% savings would be great.

Yes I also believe that electricity delivery charges are too high and the Debt Retirement Charge is a joke.  Perhaps the whole electricity thing is so expensive because we have too many tiers of service providers and governing bodies, and the rumour of high salaries on which I will not comment further because I don’t know the numbers.

Have you ever studied your electricity bill closely? Mine is very simple. It is broken down to electricity usage, delivery, regulatory charges, debt retirement charge, 13% HST, and 10% Ontario Clean Energy Benefit rebate.  And how about the 3.45% Adjustment Loss Factor applied to our actual electricity consumption?  If our bill shows 600 KWh in consumption because that is what our meter recorded you would think we would be charged for 600 KWh, right?  The answer is no, there is an Adjustment Loss Factor in delivering electricity to us and we’re paying for it.  So instead of paying for the 600 KWh actually used we are being charged for 600 + 20.7 (3.45%) = 620.7 KWh.  Yes, there is definitely technical justification for Loss Factors but how do we know they are not already factored into the rates?

It would be interesting to know this. In times when there were power outages there would be no electricity usage and therefore no usage charges. However, if we were to pay attention to the delivery charges, how are they being adjusted? Technically speaking when there is no electricity usage there should be no delivery.

It’s amazing how we can sometimes be fooled. Here is an interesting article, a report from the Auditor General from last year, “Smart Meter installation cost Ontario nearly double original projection: AG“. Initially I thought that having a smart meter was a good idea. Religiously I would cook and do laundry during off peak hours even though it would take away from my evening and weekend rest time. I was doing well on my electricity consumption. I was proud. The downfall came when rates on our utility bill periodically started increasing.  From that point my motivation to save periodically started declining. Time-Of-Use and Smart Metering were not resulting in much saving.  I am sure that many of us tried to consume most of our electricity during off-peak hours and that could only have meant lost revenue for the distributor. I think it is fair to assume that is maybe why the Time-Of-Use rates increased. I very much despise the attitude that rate increases on necessities are justified because someone else cannot afford to lose.

While doing my research I came across the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit: “The Ontario Government, in late 2010, announced the introduction of the OCEB, a 10% rebate for all residential, seasonal, farm and small business (general service energy-billed with less than 50 kW demand) customers in the province. The rebate, appears as a separate line item on customer bills, is applied on the total charges (electricity, delivery, regulatory, debt retirement and taxes) for electricity consumed beginning on January 1, 2011 and will be in place until December 31, 2015.” Yes, unfortunately this credit expires by the end of this year so we all need to get ourselves ready for a 10% increase.

Anna Lozyk Romeo
Aurora, ON


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